Some Categories to Consider…

October 30, 2009 by

Some categories that, as I’ve been reading, I’ve found posters fit into include:

Advertising Posters (Literary, Theatre, Consumer Goods, Travel, etc.)

Publicity Posters

Public Service Announcement Posters

War/Propaganda Posters


Chronology of Poster Art + Point of View Reflections

October 30, 2009 by


woodcut> intaglio> color lithography> technology huge impact on poster art

color litho- all printing and non-printing layers are at same level (unlike relief and intaglio); based on repellence of oil & water

litho invented 1798, almost immediate attempts to use color by running plate for each color, registration made difficult

peak usage between affordable production cost 1880’s to availability of photography in beginning of 20th cent.

University of Delaware Library, Special Collections

last modified 5/5/09

American posters- highly collectable since posters were being produced- limited ed. poster books “The Modern Poster” (1895) 1000 editioned, reinforced craze

American posters publicized books; posters began outselling books they were advertising> no longer produced

Read the Sun poster (for the Sun Newspaper) Louis J. Read

poster parties

advertised bicycles, food and wine, cafes and restaurants, cabaret and circus

many talented women poster artists in golden age of poster, but male dominated artform bc of women’s position in society at time

Ethel Reed, Florence Lundborg, Evelyn Rumsey Cary

sexist essay about Ethel Reed in The Poster November, 1898 “women have no orginiality of thought, and that literature and music have no feminine character, but surely women know how to observe, and what they se is quite different from that which men see, and the art which they put in their gestures in their dresses, in the decoration of their environment, is sufficient to give us the idea of an instinctive and peculiar genius which each of them possesses

coincided with rising popularity of magazines- The Century, Scriber’s, Harper’s Weekly

Maxfield Parish, Edward Penfield

Point of View-

consistent theme throughout poster illustration is the use of poster to advertise book, music, theater, lifestyle media. Embraced by middle class bc both were available and affordable to them in large quantity. More disposable income for leisure activities like reading and theater-going. Posters had low production costs, which made mass production possible. Paris poster artists of late 19th century took the gallery from the Academie to the streets with large scale, colorful reproductions widely available and free. People could collect beautiful imagery like never before.

Rebelled against Academie- seedy subject matter vs. classical painting subjects

reproducible image w print material vs. one-of-a-kind painting with traditional material

public, middle-class audience; wide exposure vs. Academie, art-critic, & high art inner circle; exclusive exposure

flat imagery, simplified line, bold color, abstract/modified shape vs. traditional painting techniques (form, perspective, local color usage, composition)

incorporation of text w/ imagery vs. no text

Cafe life- Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh, : all contemporaries of eachother, hung out in cafes and created art (alternative to formal Academie)

drew eachother> they appear in eachother’s work

P.O.V.- Toulouse-Lautrec & Cafe Life

Went out into world he fit into bc of his situation (aristocrat+handicapped> underground cabaret & cafe scene)

prostitutes & brothels- only relationships he had, respected them & depicted their life> prostitution in 1890’s was at its peak; common stage in woman’s life to be prostitute at time & place

captured his surroundings & contributed to thriving theater scene bc of illustrations; fueled image of bruant, avril, etc

immersed in culture, observed, depicted, and propelled his scene

TL an example being where and as you are supposed to be at the right time- artists fate

technology, social changes

filters through which you look at through topic

poster emulates, epitomizes era- social issues, there whether you like it or not; documenting history- very time

>propaganda- war posters

>entertainment- music, lifestyle, theater

pierre bonnard



The origins of the poster can be traced back to the early playbills and other typographical announcements that were pasted on walls indiscriminately to attract the public’s attention.

used thick and varied lettering creatively> visual impact

mall French handbill of 1800 with illustration and lettering advertising Bonne Bièrre de Mars (see Abdy, p. 6) may be regarded as one of the forerunners of the poster

large-scale signboards that appear in a print of 1721 of St Bartholomew’s Fair, London (London, Guildhall), also anticipate modern street advertising

1761 an edict issued in France by Louis XV ordered that similar boards should be fixed to walls for safety, thus in a sense creating the billboard

directly from lithographic designs in journals and magazines executed by professional illustrators

France, from 1834, Paul Gavarni worked for the periodical Le Charivari producing a number of lively, popular illustrations that attracted the notice of artists and public alike

J.-J. Grandville Les Metamorphoses du jour (Paris, 1829)>antecedent of much of the Surrealist-inspired poster art of the 1930s and 1950s; Grandville’s use of bizarre humour was an early contribution to the content and imagery of popular posters in the 19th century, where word-play and whimsy were frequent factors

Edouard Manet, however, who produced the most quoted link between the book-page advertisement and the broad style of poster imagery with his poster for the illustrated edition of Champfleury’s Les Chats (1868; New York, MOMA) The design incorporates typography with a small lithographed illustration of cats on a rooftop, executed in flat, simplified shapes derived from Japanese print

influence of prints become source for Art Nouveau

Lautrec’s slightly disturbing but original style earned him the reputation of being probably the best-known poster artist of all time. An important aspect of his contribution to the history of the poster was his reduction of form to flat, simple pattern in a small range of strong colours, making the designs powerful enough to withstand reproduction on cheap paper and to be highly memorable

by 1890’s Art Nouveau became element of posters> Eugene Grasset Salon des Cent: Exposition (1894; New York, MOMA) – depicts girl’s head & hand holding a flower, heavy outline (reminiscent of stained glass; Alphonse Mucha of Bohemia, decorative, all posters for Sarah Bernhardt + her costumes & decor for productions

American- economic woodblock, huge scale; cruder in concept than contemporary european posters. Grasset visited & influenced US style> Edward PenfieldHarper’s & Collier’s; The Chap Book Thanksgiving Number one of most popular posters

Fred Walker wood-engraved, b&w poster 1871 for The Woman in White (New York, MOMA)

“Beggarstaff Brothers”- William Nicholson & James Pryde– limited ed. woodcut & lithography posters, flat colours & massed forms, Girl on a Sofa- reproduced in German magazine 1914, interest to designers in Germany; Tom Purvis (1920’s & 30’s)

Britain- mostly concerned w humorous versions of the best work in Paris; John Hassall (1868-1948) Dudley Hardy

In Belgium there were a number of artists who designed original posters. They included Henri Meunier (1873–1922), Victor Mignot (1872–1944) and Privat-Livemont (1861–1936). Although their styles were highly individual, there is a common element of accurate draughtsmanship linked to ideas derived from the Symbolist movement that distinguishes work in both Belgium and the Netherlands from much of the work in Paris.

Leonetto Capiello, an artist of Italian origin who worked in Paris, brought a new concept to poster design relying on a single motif placed against a plain background, for example in his Chocolat Klaus (1903)

Among the many other German artists who produced outstanding posters were Julius Klinger (1876–1950), Paul Scheurich (1883–1945), Julius Gipkens (b 1883), Peter Behrens and Hans Rudi Erdt (1883–1918).

During World War I posters were produced by the countries involved not only for recruitment or for soliciting support for War Loans but also for protest. Käthe Kollwitz in Germany and Jules Abel Faivre (1867–1945) in France; Alfred Leete (1882–1933) in England and Montgomery Flagg (1877–1960) in the USA; Howard Chandler Christy (1873–1952)

P.O.V.> Propaganda Art

Immediacy of imagery with straightforward text effectively influences mass culture’s opinion (supporting or against); wide exposure possible bc of low production costs; also large scale overwhelms a viewer, aggressive gesture (pointing finger of dominating figure, Uncle Sam)- more susceptible to message

(Grove Art cont’d)

use of photography shifted the emphasis from the hand-drawn imagery and lettering of the painter–printmaker to the sophisticated graphic language of the designer; Cubism easily assimilated by designers

Art Deco in French poster design– decorative treatment of images and angular patterns; Georges Lepape (1887-1971) fashion posters

images memorable underlines the importance of the poster in its position midway between art and the market place

In between wars; Travel Posters: McKnight Kauffer – best work between wars; travel posters encouraged urban traveller to leave city & served to decorate tunnels and passages; Railway companies & shipping lines in Britain- extensive patronage of work of these and other poster artists

in Switzerland, where Otto Baumberger (1889–1961) and Niklaus Stoecklin (1896–1982), together with Max Bill (e.g. poster for Olympic Games, Munich, 1972; London, V&A), were among those who fused formal, abstracted elements and typography into precise designs, heralding the rise of the professional graphic designer

Posters 1940-1964

During World War II poster designers were forced to compete with cinema and the radio as a means of spreading propaganda. However, the development of photography and photomontage over the previous decades had given new shape to poster design

The extent to which posters were used during wartime proved their unsurpassed value as instruments of direct and powerful communication.

Consumer and travel posters were replaced by instructional posters that urged the public to conserve energy, grow more food or guard the terrain and the secrets of the respective countries. Posters made under the Nazis depicted Nazi leaders and policies in a favourable light to the inhabitants of the occupied countries; here the message was often more significant than the merit of the design.

Jean Carlu used his skill with simplified forms in America’s Answer—Production (1941; New York, MOMA)

In the USSR, among a prolific output of propaganda posters, the work of the Kukryniksy group—Mikail Kupriyanov, Porfiry Krylov and Nikolai Sokolov—added to the stirring character of Soviet poster design

In 1944 Paul Colin celebrated the re-emergence of France with a dramatic painting that was issued as a poster entitled Libération, with the personified image of France standing this time not among the barricades (as in Revolutionary times) but among her ruined cities.

20 years following the end of World War II, several factors affected poster design throughout the world

international approach to design developed-Many European designers had moved to the USA, where the rise of a professional advertising body created a market for designers’ work

style- Cubist & Bauhaus theory gave way to Surrealism; humour sought in advertising after stress of war

Swiss magazine Graphis– focal point for GD world

Donald Brun (b 1909), Swiss, Gauloises (1965; priv. col., see Barnicoat, p. 114) – sharp, geometric forms and strong, clear colours, printed immaculately against a black ground

Raymond Savignac (b 1907) and Herbert Leupin (b 1916) both exploited an element of comedy in their posters

From 1965

1965 the University of California at Berkeley became the focus of the psychedelic posters of the hippy movement; these graphics of protest, which were an affirmation of a new youthful lifestyle, coincided with an exhibition of Jugendstil and Expressionist posters at Berkeley

Victor Moscoso’s Young Bloods (1967), Bob Masse’s Kitsilano Theatre, Vancouver (1968) or Robert McClay’s Funky Features (1968) and Bob Schnepf’s Avalon Ballroom (1967)

Michael English (b 1939) (British)

new ideas that challenged the established standards of poster design:

rise of the Polish cinema and theatre poster- violent and brilliantly inventive imagery, executed in bright colours- Jan Lenica’s (b 1928) poster Wozzeck (1964; see Barnicoat, pl. 235); Waldemar Swierzy (b 1931); Franciszek Starowieyski (b 1930) made use of dramatic Surrealist imagery

Cuba- revolution inspired a forceful series of poster designs by various artists who worked for the new government through official agencies; political & cinematic; Raúl Martínez and Antonio Pérez González

Push-pin had influential role in the professional world of graphic design in the 1960s and early 1970; reintroduced a hand-drawn appearance to posters, which leant towards quotation and parody (e.g. Seymour Chwast, End Bad Breath, 1967; Seymour Chwast/Pushpin Lubalin Peckolick priv. col., see 1984–5 exh. cat., pl. 187).

The poster Dylan (1967; London, V&A) by Glaser shows a portrait of the singer Bob Dylan in silhouette with his hair depicted as a tangled mass of bright colours

many Push Pin designs inspired by Surrealism, but other imagery too

1970’s & 80’s- poster design was consolidation of what was recently avante-garde and experimental

Poster Art Heavy Hitters:

*Milton Glaser

*James McMullan

Postwar Tendencies, pgs. 313-315

October 29, 2009 by

“It may appear easier to follow the development of the poster in recent times, but in fact the poster today has acquired a much greater importance and a much more complex character than it had in the past.  Earlier it was possible to single out the middle European poster, or the French poster, or the Russian poster, or the French poster after Cheret, and so on, but now national and cultural distinctions can no longer be made.”  p. 313

“A poster should never be thought of as a painting; it should be considered only in the context of the specific publicity campaign to which it belongs.  Among other things, a publicity poster on a wall is a reduced image of a more complex advertising message that establishes a dialogue with the viewer.  Beacause of this, a history of posters abstracted form their social context and the specific advertising campaigns in which they figured would be incomplete and misleading.

I would suggest, therefore, that to trace the development of postwar posters, one should try to reconstruct the context in which they appeared.  Only by considering them as part of their respective publicity campaigns, rather than as the work of individual artists, can a historically accurate appraisal of them be made.” p. 315

From the Postcubist Poster to the Second World War

October 29, 2009 by

“In the 1930s European posters reflected several trends” the postcubist synthesis; simplified and depoliticized versioa of the photoemontages of the Berlin Dadaists; and the Dadaists’ borrowings from surrealism.” p. 309

Adolphe Mouron Cassandre (Cracow 1901-1968) created a concise alternative to the Russian photomontage poster and the German Bauhaus poster.  His poster, Nord Express, shuns the Bauhaus’s importance of  typography with text that functions more as just caption.  The train is foreshortened in a very futurist fashion.

E. McKnight-Kauffer (1890-1954) was among the most interesting artist working in the Post-Cubist revival style in America.

The Bauhaus

October 29, 2009 by

The Bauhaus was a school that operated from 1919 to 1933 in Germany.  The school existed in three German cities (Weimer from 1919 to 1925, Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933), under three different architect-directors: Walter Groipus from 1919 to 1927, Hannes Meyer from 1927 to 1930 and Ludwig Meis Van der Rowe from 1930 until 1933, when the school was closed by the Nazi regime.

“There was a certain continuity between the posters of Toulouse-Lautrec and Steinlen, but between 1920 and 1922 poster art divided into two streams: one for the masses, the other for the elite.” p. 306

There were three factors that were responsible for this split over class.  The first being the Dada Movement (1916 in Zurich, 1918 in Paris).  The second is Kasimir Malevich’s suprematism:

Example of Kasimir Malevich's Suprematism style

His style was nonobjective, flat shapes were painted straight onto the canvas.  He was connected to the creation of the Dutch artist movement “De Stijl” in 1917.

The third factor is the first Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919.  Here the “fantastic-mythic inspiration of Paul Klee and Kandinski and the structuralism of architects, poster makers, and other graphic artists” were united.

“During and immediately after the First World War, [which was] a period of crisis in poster art, the poster recieved fresh inspiration from two directions: the photomontage technique practiced by the Dadaists of Berlin, who were active from about 1917 to 1923, and the Bauhaus use of type.”

John Heartfield (1891-1968) created posters that had a large figure in the foreground and a contrast of other receding figures in dramatic perspective behind it.

John Heartfield, "Ten Years Later: Fathers and Sons," 1924


Russian artists accepted his work as influence.  They thought that it was realism (though it was actually photo-montage).  Heartfield’s influence was strong from the 1920s until the end of WWII.  Eliezer Lissitsky was particularly influenced in his poster for a Russian exhibition at a Zurich museum in 1929

USSR, Lissitzky

“In Bauhaus posters, the inscriptions became illustrations.  The unity or words and illustration in Bauhaus work is extremely rich and complex, and by the very structure of bauhaus production, posters remained for the elite.  But in the long run Bauhaus could not help but influence the development of the poster in Europe, particularly in Switzerland after the Nazis took over Germany and the poster there returned to an academic, rhetorical realism.” p. 307

Joost Schmidt (1893-1942) exemplifies the relationship between word and image in his poster Staatliches Bauhaus Ausstelling, 1923

Walter Dexel (1890-1973) was very influential in the Bauhaus

Herbert Bayer (Austrian, 1900-1985) is one of the most influential Bauhaus designers when it comes to posters.

German Expressionism and the War Poster in the West

October 28, 2009 by

“The expressionist revolution was influenced by the discovery in the West of Japanese wood engravings, the revival of populist nationalism, the Jugendstil, and a certain civic-mindedness.  Expressionism—which was symbolic, emotional, sometimes violent, and always non-realistic—had a particular impact on film poster, for example the 1919 poster for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari [by Stahl-Arpke]It also greatly affected posters created during and immediately after the First World War.”

Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) was heavily influenced by painters such as Gaugin, Van Gogh, Munch, and Klimt.  He created complex posters for theatre productions and literary novels, geared towards the elite educated class.

However, he also made wartime posters (such as Neider mit dem Bolschewismus, 1919).  Wartime posters were specific to the style popular in the countries they were made.  Thus, in France and The United States they were realistic.

Half way there…..

October 25, 2009 by

Hey guys,

Hope you all are having a good weekend. I was wondering if you guys would have a few minutes to stay after Allan’s class Tuesday to discuss where we are and how to go about the presentation and the paper. I’m gonna finish up American Poster Art of the early 19th century. I’ve traced back to the Japanese prints, so maybe we can research the history of printmaking (Ian you might know a good bit about that already) to cover the pre-French Poster Art time period, and then start on the more contemporary stuff. I think the major points we still need to hit are the Polish posters, travel posters, early Hollywood movie posters, and the 60’s Fillmore/pschyadelic music posters. If anyone has some stuff they’d like to add to that, just post. I’ll start drafting some paragraphs on what we’ve covered, post it, and we can all begin to edit together. Hope  to see you guys Tuesday.


“The Art Nouveau Tradition in Europe,” Max Gallo, pages 303-304

October 20, 2009 by

“The style variously called liberty, art nouveau, and Jugendstil [literally translated as ‘youth style’] was a phenomenon that emerged across Europe.  it led to a substantial change in the relationship of words and images in posters, and except in France it dominated the culture of Europe for fifteen years, spanning the turn of the century.” p. 303

Artists who represent the style in England: William Morris (1834-96), Aubrey Beardsley (1872-98)

In Scotland: Margaret Macdonald (1865-1933), Frances Macdonald (1874-1921), Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928)

In France: Alphonse Marie Mucha (1860-1939)

Alphonse Marie Mucha

In Belgium: Jan De Velde (1863-1957)

In Austria: Gustave Klimt (1862-1918)

Gothic lettering had a massive effect on poster illustration at this point.

Gothic Lettering

William Morris was influenced by 15th century Flemish manuscript decorations

Agricultural workers in the manor fields, English c 1390s

In the beginning, Mucha designed his posters in the tradition of Cheret.

“The most inventive contributors to the Jugendstil were [Jan] Toorop and [Henry] van de Velde…In van de Velde’s very famous poster for Tropon (1899) the illustration is ambiguous and allusive, almost as abstract as a trademark, while the inscription is explicit.  The Jugendstil is a far cry from the realism of French posters at the end of the nineteenth  century.”

Intro to Poster Art in America

October 17, 2009 by

American Posters Intro

Edward Penfield- Harper’s mag- depicted middle-upper class person reading leisurely

Will H. Bradley

genuinely loved part of american culture> increased literacy, mass publication, print technology

urban expansion, better standards of living> better educated > literacy circles and book clubs formed

magazines target audience shifted from aristocrat to man on the street when prices lowered (35 cents to 10 cents)

publishers took on social causes  and reforms as primary editorial thrust

interests of constantly growing younger audience

artists & publishers> arts & crafts could serve general populace (regardless of financial or social background) & become widely available

John Ruskin & William Morris- idealistic philosophy of raising standard of living by doing away with social/environmental inequities> comfortable, healthy

art?strong curative powers; English born Louis Rhead (American poster artist)

poster as the poor man’s art gallery, could enrich everyday life “moral aspect of the artistic poster”

demographic, philosophic, aesthetic factors + growth of natn’l advertising & marketing + new technology: photo-mechanical halftone printing = “unparalleled increase in the printing of magazines and popular novels”> result: advertising and promotional posters for material> mass market publications promoted visually & enrich owner’s life and home

By 1896, Will M. Clemens noted: demand for posters so high in U.S., 20 establishment specializing in poster production, $3,000,000 capital invested , 100 draughtsmen & designers + 500 more artists for reproduction employed by poster producers

“all progressive art stores have poster displays”

Lautrec’s Japanese Influences

October 17, 2009 by
HokusaiColor Woodcut Print, 7.6" x 6.7"

Color Woodcut Print, 7.6" x 6.7"

KatsukawaWoodblock print, 12.2" x 5.5"

Woodblock print, 12.2" x 5.5"

Woodblock print, 14.5" x 9.5"

Woodblock print, 14.5" x 9.5"

Kitagawa Utamaroinfluence of Lautrec, color woodblock print

influence of Lautrec, color woodblock print